Every year on December 1st, I begin looking forward to all the good times we’ll have leading up to Christmas Day. I crank up my holiday playlist and bring out the pine-scented candles! Christmas might look a little different this year, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Block out some time for these special Christmas traditions you and your kids will love and cherish.

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Have the kids write their letter to Santa asking for what they’d like for Christmas. Go to emailsanta.com to email Santa, play games, watch Christmas webcams and more. There’s even a countdown with how many “sleeps” until Santa comes. Also check out freelettersfromsantaclaus.com to personalize and then print out a letter. Oh, and did you know that Santa tweets?


Take a couple of family pictures. One year we put on headbands with snowmen and reindeer sticking up on springs just to be goofy for our Christmas cards. Sometimes we take one where we are dressed more laid-back so we can display that photo all year in a frame.


Why not go easy on yourself by uploading the family picture you took to a photo website like Snapfish and have them print out your Christmas cards for you? Just write addresses on envelopes and mail!


Especially this year, people want to get snail mail! Some people think Christmas letters are silly, but I love receiving updates from family and friends, so I also enjoy giving updates on my family. I keep a copy of each year’s letter in a binder to look back on, and I plan to make copies for all my kids when they move out someday. When it’s not possible to include your letter with your cards, just send it out via email.


The great Christmas debate is about the tree: real or fake? Whether you drag your tree out of storage or go to a lot to pick out a fresh one, you have quite a bit of fun in store decorating it!


For the best guide to local holiday lights and beyond, check out Atlanta Parent’s Guide to Light Displays and take a drive with your family. Play Christmas music and sip hot chocolate to get in the spirit. Jot down your favorite places so you won’t forget to see them again next year.


Help someone in need. Get your kids excited about helping others by finding ways to give. Choose gifts together online to help a foster child through Clark’s Christmas Kids or the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Contact homeless shelters or agencies for a list of needed items, like toiletries or clothes; you can shop online or utilize curbside pickup at many stores. Your kids will experience the true meaning of the holidays by helping others.


Everyone loves a Christmas treat! Spend a day baking and decorating cookies and treats for friends, families, neighbors, teachers, letter carrier and strangers. Check first to see if nursing homes and assisted living facilities in your town are accepting such items.


As the Christmas season ends, make sure you read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” while snuggled up with some reindeer chow.


And don’t forget to track Santa at NORAD’s website at NORADSanta.org!

– Kerrie McLoughlin

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